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Sci Rep. 2015 Feb 12;5:8481. doi: 10.1038/srep08481.

Winners and losers in a world where the high seas is closed to fishing.

Author information

1
Fisheries Economics Research Unit, Fisheries Centre, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, V6T 1Z4, Canada.
2
Sea Around Us, Fisheries Centre, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, V6T 1Z4, Canada.
3
Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS), University of Tasmania, Private Bag 129 Hobart, Tasmania, Australia 7001.
4
Changing Ocean Research Unit, Fisheries Centre, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, V6T 1Z4, Canada.
5
Department of Biological Sciences, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, British Columbia, V5A 1S6, Canada.
6
Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, South Parks Road, Oxford, OX1 3PS, UK.
7
Environment Department, University of York, York, YO10 5DD, UK.
8
National Geographic Society, Washington, DC, USA.

Abstract

Fishing takes place in the high seas and Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs) of maritime countries. Closing the former to fishing has recently been proposed in the literature and is currently an issue of debate in various international fora. We determine the degree of overlap between fish caught in these two areas of the ocean, examine how global catch might change if catches of straddling species or taxon groups increase within EEZs as a result of protection of adjacent high seas; and identify countries that are likely to gain or lose in total catch quantity and value following high-seas closure. We find that <0.01% of the quantity and value of commercial fish taxa are obtained from catch taken exclusively in the high seas, and if the catch of straddling taxa increases by 18% on average following closure because of spillover, there would be no loss in global catch. The Gini coefficient, which measures income inequality, would decrease from 0.66 to 0.33. Thus, closing the high seas could be catch-neutral while inequality in the distribution of fisheries benefits among the world's maritime countries could be reduced by 50%.

PMID:
25674681
PMCID:
PMC5389130
DOI:
10.1038/srep08481
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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